Humor as a Cost-Effective Means of Stress Management
Karyn Buxman, MSN, CSP, CPAE
(Originally published in Managing Employee Benefits , (1998).
Humor as a cost-effective means of stress management. Volume 6, Issue 2, pp. 74-78.)
U.S. workers consume 15 tons of aspirin a day. One in four workers suffers from an anxiety related illness. Soon job stress may be the #1 reason for worker’s compensation. “Terminal professionalism” seems to be a sign of the times. But taking oneself too seriously can have some unpleasant side effects.
WHAT IS STRESS?
Stress is the body’s response to any demand or pressure. These demands are called stressors. Stressors include major life events, such as death of a loved one or divorce. They entail chronic strains such as living in an abusive relationship. Stressors also consist of occasional strains, such as getting a flat tire in heavy traffic. (Source: Fact Sheet HE-2089, 11-91, Florida Cooperative Extension Service)
Answer: Pink slip… Bonus….
Question: What’s the difference between anxiety and excitement?
Seriously, though, what is the difference between being anxious and excited?
When you think about it, the two are closely related, but they differ by a degree of perspective. What is your mindset? Are you envisioning the situation you’re thinking about coming out with a positive outcome or with a negative outcome?
We know from studies that a little stress, sometimes known as eustress, can be a good thing. A little stress causes us to be alert, to be ready, to have our “game on.” To have absolutely no stress results in you being the equivalent of a puddle of protoplasm on the floor—no energy, no movement, static—not dynamic. No matter how tempting it may sound, it’s not really good to have no stress in your life!
Too much stress, however, clouds our thinking, muddles our memory, causes us to make dumb mistakes—not to mention, it just...
“I’m brain dead,” my pal, Sheila, moaned over her coffee at our break. “I wouldn’t recognize a fresh idea if it jumped in my face and wiggled. I’m just not creative. Am I too left-brained? Where do you get all your ideas?”
What is creativity? Like humor, it’s a mindset, a process, a way of looking at things. Researchers once believed that creativity was found primarily in the right hemisphere of the brain; they believed “right-brained” people were more creative. Now researchers speculate that creativity involves both hemispheres, that it’s a combination of both analytic and intuitive thought.
Are you a creative person? Why is it that as children we’re able to tap into our natural creative abilities only to be stymied later as adults? Perhaps it’s because we’re taught early on to be logical, to look for the one right answer, and to be serious.
As we grow older, our creative tendencies are...
I, along with members of The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, put together a list of fun-filled ideas to help you rise above the current economic turmoil.
It is my gift to you. Happy Holidays!
10 Tips for Finding Humor in Turbulent Times
The economy is on its wildest ride in decades. The line waiting for a government bail-out is almost as long as the line waiting to check-out in stores this holiday shopping season. And, you’re simply at wits end in trying to deal with it all!
Fear not – there’s humor to be found amidst all of this chaos and confusion. So says Karyn Buxman, Publisher of The Journal of Nursing...
I absolutely love being self-employed. I’ve been my own boss for almost twenty years now. But if I were ever going to punch a clock for someone else ever again, I think I found where I would want to work: Cancer Treatment Centers of America. I had the opportunity to visit their facility outside of Chicago last week—they knocked my socks off!
When you arrive at CTCA you are greeted by a couple of valet attendants, who for no fee (won’t even accept a tip) park your car for you and escort you inside. When you enter, immediately you begin to feel the warm energy emanating from this place. On the wall to your left, a brass tree with leaves baring the names of patients who have celebrated at least 5 years of life since arriving. You then pass a large aquarium with beautiful fish on your left and a beautiful atrium with plants and soothing music to your right. A friendly person at the reception desk greets you and quickly determines how to best suit your needs.
I know what some of you left brain logical people are thinking. Humor: It’s cute. It’s entertaining. But it’s just not practical.
Hey, you don’t have to take my word for it. You can ask the people at American Express or Jell-O. These companies understand that while people use logic to justify their buying decisions, emotion is what sells. And one of the quickest connections to emotion is humor.
Whey else would American Express spend millions of dollars to feature Jerry Seinfeld in their ads? (He now also has a $10 million deal from Microsoft!)
Why would Capitol One present David Spade in their commercials?
Why would Jell-O hire Bill Cosby as their spokesperson?
These companies understand that humor fosters connection, and that this connection, in turn, affects people’s buying decisions.gitomer When Funny Means Money: Sales
My buddy and Sales Guru, Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Little Red Book of Selling (and dozens of other books!) says that humor...
“I died laughing!” my friend told me, recounting her evening at the comedy club the night before. She described how she laughed until her sides ached and mascara ran down her face.
Wow—a pretty scary picture. And yet people don’t really die laughing—quite the opposite. Laughter is one of the healthiest tools we have.
Remember when you were a child and everything was oh-so-funny? When the silliest of remarks would send you and your friends into gales of laughter? When did that stop? What does it take now to make you pause long enough in your busy life to process humor?
Do you laugh much, or have you noticed a distinct lack of laughter in your life lately? If you are not laughing, you are failing to take advantage of one of the healthiest natural activities available. So in between all the busy-ness with which your days are filled, take some time to laugh – and you may just find yourself healthier in the process. Here are five ways that laughter can...
They met as freshmen at Harvard 51 years ago! Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein have been longtime friends and colleagues. Not too long ago, they checked into a hotel with a pile of joke books and a pile of philosophy books and the result: Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar… Understanding Philosophy through Jokes. (Well, actually the original title was An Existentialist and A Horse Walk into a Bar—no joke, but I digress…)
Forty publishers rejected their book. Fortunately, the forty-first, Abrams Image, was savvy enough to spot a winner. A New York Times Best seller, as a matter of fact.
For those of you, like me, who managed to escape taking Philosophy in college (nurses aren’t encouraged to philosophize, especially while performing CPR), you would be pleasantly surprised at how the great insights of philosophers such as Kant, Aristotle, Descartes, Nietzsche, and Marx (Karl and Groucho) can be explained in such an understandable and hysterical way. The wit...
A wise person once said, “Wherever you are, be there.”
Have you ever found yourself collapsing into bed at the end of an exhausting day wondering, “What did I do all day?” Think about it for a second… How many ‘hats’ do you wear in a 24-hour period? For instance there’s the parent or grandparent hat, spouse hat, the hats of chauffeur, parishioner, volunteer, friend… just to name of few. For some of you, the list may go on and on. Think I’m exaggerating? Perhaps your day goes more like this:
Waking up from a peaceful sleep, you begin the day sipping a piping hot cup of coffee in bed while scanning the morning newspaper. Then you follow a tantalizing aroma to the kitchen where your significant other has prepared and serves a delicious but low-fat breakfast that you consume at your leisure. Next, you slip on your sharpest outfit, stroll to your luxury car and breathe in the...
Times are tough economically, markets are down and customers are cranky—even angry! Taking care of the employees that have to deal with these customers, and taking steps to make the environment less stressful, makes for a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce. And taking care of employees is exactly what the folks at First Allied set out to do.
In preparation for my presentation on humor and stress management (I’ve Got One Nerve Left—and You’re Standing on It!), I first met with Blake Bjordahl, Sr. VP and Director of Operations and got a personal tour of the operations in San Diego. I was delighted to see evidence of many employees who took their jobs seriously and themselves lightly. Cubicles were decorated with pictures, cartoons, and even Legos, In one area, nicknamed “The Playground,” a bookcase contained numerous games, books and toys designed to help the staff de-stress. The vending machines were even subsidized so no one had to...